how to think like a programmer

How to think like a programmer

If you’re feeling stuck or looking for tips on how to improve your programming skills, keep reading to learn how to think like a programmer. Mastering programming takes practice and patience and I know you can do it.

Programmer Mindset

There are many ways to solve a problem. With programming, you must break down the problem into smaller pieces. If you’re unsure how to break it down, sometimes explaining the problem to friends can help or you can use a rubber duck.

Sometimes it also helps to step away from the problem for a moment and come back to it.

clear the fog - understand the problem before attempting to fix it

“The formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”― Albert Einstein

You can think of programming as a form of communication. You’re not just expressing your idea to the computer, but you’re also conveying this to your future self or your collaborators.

After years of experience, you’ll have an innate understanding of typical code speak. Knowing the lingo will then allow you to express your ideas effectively like members in a band jamming on their favorite song.

Realize that programming challenges are open-ended and allow for creativity. Even the most highly skilled programmer encounters errors and with these errors, we learn even more and find better solutions.

The best programmers don’t know everything and use their errors to expand their skills and knowledge.

The best programmers not only know their favorite language but are humble enough and self aware to keep an open mind.

True mastery comes with understanding the building blocks and putting in the time to practice!

Once you have a good grasp of the problem, we can now form a plan to solve it.

get unstuck - get it working then clean it up

Get unstuck

You now have a good idea for your solution but how do we put it together?

Do we use classes, just functions, or parts of someone else’s code? Like anything else in life, the best place is to just start.

Get to a working solution.

Great programmers don’t stop once they’ve solved it, they continue to refine their work into clear and concise code. Have a friend review your code and give suggestions if they’re not understanding it. Sharing your work with others becomes a teachable moment, not only for you but also for the reviewer.

When you’re stuck, the best thing to do is take action

  • Ask questions and write them down
  • Read other people’s code
  • Harness your ability for clear thinking
  • Just get started!

build with others

Build with others

Great projects are rarely built alone. You must find others that like your ideas. That person does not have to know or have a desire to learn programming.

Reach out to your friends and show them your amazing piece of work, even if it’s not finished, you’re building something and that’s awesome all by itself!

Use your favorite social media platform and post a screenshot with a brief description. Feedback is critical to your growth as a programmer.

The point is to celebrate the small wins and keep on building.

ideas from other languages

Learning new languages

Learning programming is an art. Just like any artist, you must learn from those that came before you.

Become curious about all programming languages and their design.

Why do people love python or javascript?

What even is Haskell or Go?

How does OpenGL work?

How do I use design patterns to make my code easier to understand?

If this has helped to motivate you, let me know in the comments.

I’d love to see what you’re working on.

Continue on your journey and find some fun ways to learn programming!

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